The Complete Package
It’s not what’s in the box that matters to the carton industry…it is the box. Carton manufacturers need to make cartons that don’t fail on packaging lines, that meet precise color and printing requirements, and that have the right fiber strength to protect contents during shipping. Carton manufacturers also, now, need a recurring battery of production reports, such as a Certificate of Analysis or Certificate of Conformance, that prove they have a modern, SPC-based quality program. Needs such as these, coupled with the pressures of competition, make it vital that a carton manufacturer continuously look for ways to improve its operations.
One of the common pain points voiced by carton manufacturers is the capturing of data. Through the years, many carton companies have tried to manually capture their QC inspection results on paper. This approach is resource-consuming and prone to errors. More importantly, it results in an incomplete store of information because all the valuable data from the various shop floor metrology devices and control systems has no way of making into the paper records. What is really needed, carton manufacturers state, is software that captures data automatically; software that, for example, pulls scorebend and opening force measurements from Thwing Alber Opening Force testers, stiffness check results from Tinius Olsen or Tabre devices, and readings from edge calipers and other similar equipment. Even live process data from PLC’s and HMI/SCADA software is needed to properly monitor line speeds, pressures, temperatures, and other parameters that affect carton quality.
Another challenge concerns feedback regarding the data that is captured. The longer it takes to detect measurements that are out-of-spec or trending in a troublesome way, the more waste is created. With a paper-based data collection approach, shop floor personnel have to analyze and interpret the data and this takes too long for them to make timely corrections. Ideally, the carton manufacturer would have robust SPC software that, as it captures data from all the relevant sources, can test that data in real-time against the full array of SPC rules and immediately issue whatever alarms are appropriate when a violation is detected.
A third issue often surfaces when analyzing stored data for process improvements. Stored data is only as useful as the answers it provides. Feature-rich SPC software plays a role here too. Without it, carton companies will continue to be frustrated in attempts to answer questions they’ve been asking for a long time. With it, those answers can finally be found. Examples of important and highly profitable questions to answer are:
- Can I increase my line speed and still maintain consistent carton quality?
- Which press is most efficient at meeting specific customer requirements?
- Which process produced excessive defective products over the last 24 hours?
- What processes have recently changed and are at risk of going out of control if no action is taken?
- How much is variation costing us and how much could we save if we reduced variation by 10% on a specific operation?
And yet another source of frustration can be reporting. The carton manufacturing industry now is required to produce regular reports on quality, often in unique formats. Preparing these can be a heavy burden on a quality department and a solution that easily delivers professional looking reports would be a welcome one.
A particular struggle some carton companies have is accurately tracking color and print properties. Customers have strict brand requirements and these include precise color combinations. Tests of dot gain and density are therefore necessary. Fortunately, automated scanner technology has evolved and all the necessary digital color and print data can now be generated and imported into a capable SPC system. This means that color data can now be managed in the same database as other quality measurements, enabling a holistic view of process performance. Innovative new statistical tools and calculations built into the SPC system can help engineers and managers analyze color data trends or changes and view line by line summary information. This makes the subject of color far less of a conundrum that it used to be.
WinSPC is real-time statistical process control software. It expertly addresses each of a carton manufacturer’s pain points. It captures data automatically from virtually any source, it has built-in tests for all the standard SPC rules, it contains over a dozen types of real-time alarms, it includes a state-of-the-art SPC analytics suite, and it ships with more than ninety ready-to-use report templates that satisfy practically every conceivable reporting need. It can help you automate and accelerate quality initiatives in your plant, improve productivity, and drive a preventative quality model. Beyond this, with its patented cost analysis tool, it enables carton manufacturing companies to, for the first time, identify which quality improvements would generate the greatest return on investment. It’s the complete package and it’s all in the box.